Durbin Urges Hagel To Review Allegations of Wrongdoing at Military Hospitals, Requests Report To Defense Appropriations Subcommittee
CHICAGO—U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, urging him to examine recent allegations of wrongdoing at military hospitals and report back to the Subcommittee on his findings.
A recent article in the New York Times stated that the Department of Defense’s (DoD) smaller military hospitals have much higher rates of severe complications or deaths from fairly routine care than their civilian hospital counterparts. In many of the cases, DoD failed to review the cases for wrongdoing, as required.
“In light of deeply concerning reports of subpar care and mismanagement within the Military Health System, I ask that all cases of permanent harm or death are thoroughly and impartially investigated,” wrote Durbin. “One aspect of honoring our nation’s commitment to military service is providing high-quality health care to service members and their families. I request that you ensure these concerns are addressed in this review and to brief the Committee on its results and conclusions as soon as possible.”
In May, Secretary Hagel initiated a review of military health care after reports of potential deficiencies in some parts of the military's health care system. That review is expected to conclude this fall.
Full text of Senator Durbin’s letter:
The Honorable Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000
Dear Secretary Hagel:
In light of deeply concerning reports of subpar care and mismanagement within the Military Health System, I ask that all cases of permanent harm or death – so called “sentinel events” – are thoroughly and impartially investigated. The Department’s ongoing review of the health care system should look carefully at the quality of care, in addition to ensuring that patient care is the system’s primary mission.
One aspect of honoring our nation’s commitment to military service is providing high-quality health care to service members and their families. However, recent allegations as reported in The New York Times raise serious questions as to whether the military health care system is delivering on that promise. Its investigation found several instances of poor and even deadly levels of care in some of the military’s smaller hospitals. As concerning as these instances are, the apparent lack of an impartial review to determine what went wrong is unacceptable. The report also raises serious questions as to whether these smaller hospitals have emphasized military career development above the goal of delivering high-quality health care.
I understand you ordered a review of the Military Health System on May 28, 2014, to examine access to medical care, culture of safety, and quality of healthcare within the Military Health System. I request that you ensure these concerns are addressed in this review and to brief the Committee on its results and conclusions as soon as possible.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
RICHARD J. DURBIN
United States Senator
Subcommittee on Defense
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